Monday, February 07, 2005

Black Diamond Weeks

These last few weeks have been black diamonds on and off the slopes.

Last week started out with a few blue slopes. There is a huge meeting at the district coming up to renegotiate how all the Academy programs in the district are charged. I see it as a huge opportunity because he wants to wipe the slate clean in terms of salary (which is a cost that increases every year) in exchange for giving us a little less in operating budget 15-20 thousand a year. As our state grant has no cost of living increase built in, this gives us the chance to build it in at the district level as long as all the academies can agree on a similar level of staffing. Problem is I get to play the grown up with the other Academy leaders who either are clueless about the budget process and need their hand held or just want to complain about a one time rollover of funds that the district botched. If I can rein them in and keep the discussion aggressive without being confrontational, we will come out ahead and I'll even be able to promote a healthier staff to operating budget ratio in the other Academies.

Then came the black diamonds. My good friend who was running one of the Academy programs at another school had a manic breakdown. I've been working with her for a long time. She's not just a great teacher and mentor coordinator, but she is also a good friend. When I caught up with her after her breakdown I was really worried. She reminded me of a friend I had back in college who had a similar breakdown. All the same signs were there: the seemingly bottomless supply of energy, overcoming extreme odds and taking on too much, and finally facing a problem that is beyond her control and breaking down. I was even more worried after she called me from a strangers cell phone rather late one night. When I tried to call her back, her cell was full and she wasn't picking up at her apartment. No one at work knew where she was or how she was doing. I finally looked her parents up on the internet and found out she was back in the hospital, which was some relief. Atleast she was somewhere safe even though it was a step backwards in her recovery. All the while I was worrying about my friend, I also had to worry about her program, which was drifting without her at the helm. I got in touch with her replacement, helped them get enough teachers to go to the conference so that they didn't violate their state mandate, and set up a meeting with their administration to try to get things back on track. That meeting's tomorrow, to be followed by the big guns meeting next week with their principal and the assistant superintendent. Hopefully we can pull their staff back together in time to save the program and the state funding. I'll probably need to spend a lot of time helping them through new student and staff recruitment. Hopefully I can get some structures in place to help them remain stable for a few years as they build up their team and their new leader.

Finally the real black diamonds. Lexi, Bryan, Gen and I went skiing this weekend at Kirkwood. I got some loose boots the first day and held back, but the second day I traded them in for the best fitting boots I've ever had and tackled 3 different black diamonds (I tried a 4th but I scraped down it real slow because it was a bit steeper than I was ready for so it doesn't count) I'm feeling a lot more confident about my skiing and I'm having even more fun than before all thanks to Lexi's patient tutelage. I spent the rest of the time on the last day of skiing practicing my turning form. I've been relying too much on those extreme kick stop style turns. I focused a lot of time and energy this weekend on developing better slight turns, to help me regulate my speed more gradually and to help me learn to handle faster speeds. All my luck went to my skiing though as I ended up a total of $16 down after two nights of poker. Not a huge loss and I'm getting better at not letting bad cards lure me into bad calls when I have a string of bad luck in a night. However I am tightening up a little too much as I should be playing more hands than I am in middle position. I'm going to back to practicing those starting hands on-line so I'm ready for ski week's tahoe trip. I also learned another good lesson at Google poker night. Don't over slow pay your bullets. I had two aces in the hole and just called. I hit a third ace and checked it. The turn put a 3,5,7 on the table. I raise twice the pot and the other guy goes all in. He had a big blind special of 4,6 giving him the straight. I caught another five on the river for aces full, but I felt really bad about breaking him on that hand. (OK not that bad, I won). Overall, Lexi and I have been faring better at Google poker night. We started out breaking even, but this last time we were up a total of $60 at the end of the tournament coming in 6th (me) and 4th (Lexi).

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